Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's hardly surprising the St. Louis Blues are off to a quick start and among the top teams in the NHL this season.
What is shocking, however, is the ridiculous offensive production of Blues winger Alexander Steen, a veteran who is suddenly setting the league on fire at the ripe age of 29.
With 16 goals in 17 games, Steen is on pace to score 77 times over a full 82- game slate. That number would beat Steen's previous season high by over 53 goals, so it's not like anybody could have excepted an offensive onslaught of this level coming.
Of course, projecting season totals after 17 games is hardly a scientific enterprise. Steen's start to the season is amazing, but it's still only a start. There's plenty of time for him to fall into a slump and it seems highly likely he'll cool off considerably at some point this season.
Then again, maybe Steen is simply having one of those seasons NHLers dream about, one where everything just seems to go their way.
It's not like Steen would ever be described as low-scoring. With 16 goals this season, he's managed to record 15 or more markers in seven of his nine NHL campaigns. If not for injuries Steen could've even passed the 30-goal mark on a couple occasions, a feat that seems well within his sights in 2013-14.
Still, few people would've predicted Steen's start to this campaign after he notched just eight goals in 40 games during the lockout-shortened season of 2013.
Steen's latest scoring outburst came with a two-goal effort in Thursday's 7-3 pasting of the Colorado Avalanche, a team that entered the showdown three points ahead of the Blues in the Central Division standings.
The performance featured a pair of goals on the opposite ends of the spectrum. His first goal versus the Avalanche showed the type of deadly snap shot Steen has used to great effect over the years.
The second marker wasn't nearly as pretty. An alert Steen noticed Colorado goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere failed to properly cover up a shot from David Backes and knocked the loose puck into the net.
Steen will likely need to keep logging goals of both the skillful and lucky variety to stay on the scorching pace he's set for himself in the early going. The Blues, meanwhile, are simply hoping Steen and his linemates can continue to keep the opposition on its heels.
Steen has been manning the left wing on the top line with Backes as his center and T.J. Oshie setting up on the right side. The trio is currently ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, on the team's scoring list this season. Steen, of course, leads the club in both goals and points (24), while Backes has 17 points (7 goals, 12 assists) and T.J. Oshie has 16 points on two goals and a team-high 14 assists.
Thursday's scoring outburst came at the right time for the Blues' top line. The trio combined for three goals and six assists in Thursday's tilt after managing just one goal and four assists in the previous three games combined. The mini-slump caused head coach Ken Hitchcock to split the line up at times recently, but after the rout of Colorado it's safe to say Backes, Oshie and Steen still have chemistry left to spare.
"We've been split up a couple of times the last couple games, but tonight was going well," said Oshie, who tallied four assists on Thursday. "We all three were checking. We were getting back to where were four or five games ago. It was good to get those and see Steener get a couple more."
Steen heads into his next game riding a 12-game point streak that is currently the longest in the NHL. In fact, the former first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs has failed to reach the scoresheet on just one occasion this season, back on Oct. 15 in a 6-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks. Steen also was a minus-three in his lone game without a point, marking his only minus effort of the season.
The way things are going for Steen it should be only a matter of weeks before he's able to eclipse his previous career-best goal total of 24. He set that mark while playing in 68 games during his first full season with the Blues back in 2009-10, and he could zoom past the mark if he manages to stay healthy this season.
Steen could also break his family record of 30 goals, the number scored by his father, Thomas, with the Winnipeg Jets during the 1984-85 season.
While the Blues obviously hope Steen can maintain his magic touch well into the spring, his early-scoring outburst may even earn him a spot on Team Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Steen has represented the country previously at international events, but has never donned the "Tre Kronor" sweater at an Olympics.
Although he was invited to Team Sweden's camp during the offseason, Steen was a longshot to actually make the squad. His play over the first two months of the NHL season makes it a good bet we'll see Steen representing Sweden in February.
Another thing Steen could change if he can keep rolling this way is his tax bracket. Steen is making $3.56 million in the final year of a four-year contract and could command a much higher number if he makes it to the open market next summer.
That's if the Blues don't sign him to an extension first. With the way things are going for Steen so far in 2013-14, it'd be hard to blame them if they did.